- Brant James, Contributor, espnW.com
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Danica Patrick will drive for Turner Motorsports in her 10-race commitment to this year's Nationwide Series schedule, sources told espnW.com.
Driving for JR Motorsports in her first full-time Nationwide season last year, Patrick produced the highest final points finish (10th) among women in NASCAR history. She will begin her partial campaign in NASCAR's second-tier series on Feb. 23 at Daytona International Speedway in conjunction with her first full Sprint Cup season with Stewart-Haas Racing the same weekend.
Turner Motorsports is an appealing option for Patrick not just because it fields Hendrick Motorsports-produced Chevrolets like Stewart-Haas. It's also coming off a successful 2012 season, during which Justin Allgaier finished sixth in points for the team and James Buescher -- then a 21-year-old Camping World Truck Series driver with just 34 races of Nationwide experience -- won the season-opening Nationwide race at Daytona for Turner. Buescher went on to win the NASCAR trucks title last season.
Turner also frequently fields partial Nationwide programs for Cup drivers. Kasey Kahne (15 races), Jamie McMurray and Ryan Newman (one each) split time with Brad Sweet in the No. 30 Chevrolet last season.
Richard Childress Racing vice president of competition Mike Dillon told espnW.com in November that his organization had discussed the possibility of Patrick driving his team's No. 33 Chevrolet, saying "we would love to run Danica. We think we could do a lot with her."
Dillon's team already had re-signed three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart, who has six wins in 13 Nationwide starts at Daytona, for the opener, however, and Patrick's management team preferred the continuity of allying with one organization for her supplemental program.
Though not all details concerning Patrick's remaining schedule have been finalized, she is expected to race it with Turner.
Patrick last year won the pole in the Nationwide opener at Daytona and has displayed an aptitude on the high-speed, aerodynamic-sensitive, restrictor-plate tracks there and at Talladega.
Patrick's Turner Motorsports car would be sponsored by GoDaddy.com, sources said. Her schedule is expected to include events at Talladega and Watkins Glen.
6hK. Lee Davis